Friday, June 14, 2024

If "LAND IS LIFE", Why do Governments and NGOs Promote Participatory Mapping of Customary Land and Registration to Government Office?


Opening Comments to Paradox 01

I am puzzled when knowing that governments across Melanesia, starting from West Papua to Fiji, New Caledonia to Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea, governments of modern nation-states are promoting what they call, "Land Registration Campaign".

They say that our Customary Land will be properly protected when it is registered, and that if it is not registered, then there will be so many conflicts that will hinder development policies and activities in the field.

This Is truly paradoxical: It is Paradox 01

In one side, our customary land across Melanesia were safe and in good hands before modernisation processes reached our islands and villages, our families, clans and tribes. In fact, the land was always ours and we never got into trouble. For millions of years our customary lands were never registered. Modern nation-states by the names of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and so on never existed then. 

But now interestingly, just lately before Corona Virus hit us globally, the issue of land reigstration and land mapping becamse big issue, central issue across Melanesia.

In one hand, our land has been in good hands, in good condition without governments, before nation-states were born, or given names by colonial masters. But on the other hand, they are telling us that our customary land without map and registration at this "new animal office" called "Government office", then they say to us, "Your land will not be safe".

On top of this, many non-governmental organisastions also go around Melanesia and campaigning among villagers and islanders,  that they will bring in money, bring projects and help us map our customary lands, and they will help us register our lands to the government offices: most obviously to the Lands Department of the modern nation-state.

These NGOs appear like they are heroes who help indigenous peoples map their lands and reigster to the governments. They are proud that they help the tribal peoples.


The fact is the these NGOs are helping the multinational and national companies and government offices to easily deal with land-owners in order to clear forests, draw contracts for plantations or mining, or give compensations to land owners whose land will be used to build fields or buildings for public use. The mapping and registration make it easier for the robbers and thieves to come and take away our natural resources, and even to take over our land.

Remember, that the land we call customary lands are not handed over to use for sale. It is our life, it is our future, it is our past. Our land is our life. Mapping land is mapping life! Registering land to the government offices is registering life to these new alien and consuming animals called "nation-state" and "government".

The paradox is for the government, they are saying they want to help, but in fact they are wiping out our customary land, become land readily mapped for exploitation. The paradox is the NGOs, they are saying they help us map our land and help us register to the Lands Departments on the modern nation-states' government offies, but they are actually speeding up the process of taking over our land and pushing us away from our customary lands.

Closing Notes

  1. If "Land is Life!" then land is not to be mapped by foreigners or foreign institutions!
  2. If "Land is Life!" then land is not for sale, then land should not be registered to foreign offices: including governments and NGOs offices! Indigenous tribes should own the map, register the land for themselves, in their own office.
  3. If "Land is Life!" then land is for our future generations, not for us to sell now and finish it off in this generation!
  4. If "Land is Life!" then mapping and registering lands for foreign interests and uses will wipe out our titles to the land, our identity with the land, our stories on the land.
We have witnessed Americans, Aborigines, Africans who have been taken away from their lands, and suffered a lot, due to colonial governments policies.

Today we are witnessing and experiencing those governments of free nations, governments officials and NGOs workers who are natively from our own islands and clans, they are they ones that forcing us to map and register our lands.

They are saying they are helping us, but the matter of fact is that they are actually wiping out our lives and our histories from our ancestral lands. This is truly a paradox.

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